Self-assembled microstructures with localized graphene domains in an epoxy blend and their related properties

Suihua He, Hartmut Stadler, Xiang Zheng, Xuankai Huang, Guanjie Yuan, Martin H H Kuball, Miriam Unger, Carwyn Ward, Ian Hamerton*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
47 Downloads (Pure)


Locating nanoparticles in selected areas via the mixing of two immiscible polymers is widely studied for achieving nanocomposites with next-level performance, however, the formation of a phase-separated domain constructed with nanofillers from entirely miscible molecules is rarely achieved in the literature. Here we demonstrate a method to fabricate a self-constructed bi-continuous phase structure with localized amine-functionalized graphene nanoplatelets (A-GNPs) in a liquid processable multi-component epoxy blend. Atomic force microscopy infrared spectroscopy (AFM-IR) was employed to identify the compositions of the phase-separated microdomains formed during self-assembly by A-GNP in the multi-component epoxy blend, with incorporating 1-(2-aminoethyl) piperazine (AEPIP) found to be the driving force for the formation of the graphene microdomains. Nanoindentation measurements show that a Young’s modulus of 6.3 GPa for the graphene domain was achieved, which is nearly twice that of the epoxy resin (3.2 GPa). Transient thermoreflectance results indicate that the thermal conductivity of nanocomposite with phase-separated graphene domain reached 0.48 W/mK, exhibiting a significant enhancement (70%) when compared to epoxy resin, while maintaining excellent dielectric properties. Overall, this study provides a simple and effective route to fabricate phase-separated microstructure with nanoparticles from a liquid processable nanocomposite blend, which shows the great potential of this promising new approach to fabricate nanocomposite films with excellent performance for microelectronics applications.
Original languageEnglish
Article number154925
JournalApplied Surface Science
Early online date22 Sept 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 Sept 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
S.H. is supported through China Scholarship Council/University of Bristol (CSC-UOB) Joint Research Scholarship and wishes to thank the Faculty of Engineering Research Pump Priming Fund (UOB). S.H., C.W., and I.H., would like to acknowledge the support of Bruker Nano Surfaces & Metrology, and the Henry Royce Institute through the Royce PhD Equipment Access Scheme enabling access to imaging and characterization facilities at Royce@Sheffield and Royce@Manchester; EPSRC Grant Number EP/R00661X/1. S.H., C.W., and I.H., also wish to thank Dr Germinal Margo and Dr Annela Seddon for approval for the access to the spin coater and useful discussions.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors


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